Canada trade deal 'eminently possible,' Freeland says

Sainte-Marie-Madelaine Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Ryan Remiorz

Sainte-Marie-Madelaine Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS Ryan Remiorz

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland returns to Washington for another round of NAFTA talks with the United States Tuesday despite an apparent deadlock between the two countries over Canada's insistence on preserving a key dispute-resolution chapter of the accord.

Freeland and her counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left the bargaining table Friday without a deal following two weeks of what she has described as intense, but productive, negotiations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at the Women in the World summit, was circumspect about the talks, saying only that he remains hopeful. The governing Liberal Party is holding its caucus retreat in Saskatoon on Wednesday and Thursday and it's not known whether Ms. Freeland will pause negotiations after Tuesday to head to the caucus meeting.

After more than a year of negotiations, Canada and the United States are still trying to resolve bilateral differences over NAFTA, an accord that also includes Mexico.

Freeland appeared at a women's summit Monday in Toronto, while Lighthizer was overseas to meet with the European Union trade commissioner.

With the Mexico deal in hand, and Trudeau publicly indicating that Canada's red-line issues are Chapter-19 and cultural industries, the Americans have considerable leverage, he added.

"Even if we gave him everything he wanted - and there is no way we would ever do that - who can say whether he'd be satisfied?" said one source, who declined to be identified given the extreme sensitivity of the situation. Canadian officials had said previously that they are working on the assumption that they have until the end of September to make a deal.

Wiens declined to say what action the organization would take if an updated NAFTA deal gave the US a greater chunk of the Canadian market, but did not rule out campaigning against ratification of the agreement, or the Liberal government.

New chapters governing the digital economy and stronger intellectual property, labor and environmental standards could also work to the benefit of US companies, possibly helping Trump to fulfill his campaign promise of creating more American jobs.

"I think it's something that we obviously have to be aware the president is contemplating".

The dairy system, or supply management as it is known, falls outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

"There is no question Canada and Mexico are going to get a haircut and the best you can hope for when you get a haircut is that it looks stylish", Mr. Ujczo said.

"There's a range of things we've been firm on and will continue to be firm on, but there's also things we're looking to be flexible on because it's time to update this deal after 25 years", he said in an interview with Winnipeg radio station CJOB.

"Our teams continued to work during the weekend".

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